This week is all about back to school, and I have chosen to go with the the top ten required readings during my elementary and high school years. Some of the titles on this list are long-time, ultimate favourites; some of the titles on this list I have not read since that read in school but- for various reasons- have stuck with me for years and years.
In no particular order, here are my top ten required readings/authors/playwrights/poets:
The Witches by Roald Dahl, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, and Bridge the Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. A kind of triumvirate if you will of the three books (required reading in elementary school) that made a HUGE, indelible impact on me. The Witches because of the humour, the strangeness, the sadness, and joy; Harriet M. Welsch became a hero, someone I loved and felt kinship with; and Bridge to Terabithia because I did not know just how much a book (and thus characters within a book) could hurt your heart and stay with you forever.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I have not read this since my reading way back in high school, but my memories of it remain: how terrifying, primal and visceral the book felt. It really shocked me and I could not get it out of my head. I still think of certain moments to this day and…shudder.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. What a strange reading experience this book was! I was in awe of this story; even more surprised that a high school English teacher had us write our own version of the story ‘With Apologies..’ to Franz Kafka. I remember that the experience of writing my version of the story was joyful…
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Ah yes, reading Pride and Prejudice in grade eleven was interesting- especially when we were treated to view some portions of the Jennifer Ehle-Colin Firth adaptation and that seemed to be THE highlight for all of us. In all seriousness though, this classic remains a personal favourite (incredibly relevant, insightful, gorgeous), though I don’t often do a reread.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare. How much of this play did I really understand while in grade twelve? I don’t know, but I do remember not only the beautiful soliloquies but also how much I was moved (and terrified) by Ophelia. It was, quite simply, an awful tragedy.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde & Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. These were two plays, both read aloud in class, that actually ended up being terrifically fun, memorable experiences! It helped to have a wonderful teacher who could guide us and make us see the brilliance in the language we might have missed.
The poetry of Emily Dickinson & e.e. cummings. In grade twelve, I was in a literature class as well as a double session of English: I was simply surrounded by words and books and plays and…poetry. Dickinson and Cummings are two poets that I recall being absolutely moved by in high school. I could not get over the effortlessness of their poems and how peculiarly close I felt to them. To this day, the poets and their poems are still absolute favourites.
What books are on your TTT this week? Be sure to check out more of this week’s lists here!